FanPost

WHO WILL BE OUR SECOND TIGHT END?

I pose this question because I have always felt that the tight end position, even in a loaded offense like ours, is a crucial position. It affords the best potential mismatches, especially with a versatile athelete like Jimmy Graham. The TE position is a QB's best friend because a TE gives the QB some of the "safest" throws he'll ever perform, some of the most crucial 3rd down throws, and is the guy the QB often looks for when in trouble. He is also very key in getting a QB his timing and confidence especially when a QB is struggling or is facing a great defense/pass rush or all of these factors. And the SECOND TE can be even more critical and quite an unsung hero, especially with injuries and with players getting shaken up for a few plays.

Defenses play the odds often. Defenses that face us worry about our most significant weapons first- guys such as Sproles, Graham, Colston, Moore, PT on a screen pass, Ingram on a draw. When you go down the list, and the defense gets to its fourth or fifth biggest concern, that is something Drew Brees has made a living exploiting. And, when we can put in 2 TEs, especially the way Graham can play aplit out alsmost like a WR, the matchup nightmare becomes even more stark if the 2nd TE is a true versatile athlete. Any time 2 TEs are on the field, any opposing defense has also to be very concerned about the running game and the swing/screen passes to the running backs. Now I am quite partial to Dave Thomas because he was so darn dependable and effective in 2009. But in 2010 he wasn't himself and 2011 he didn't play or played minimally. He is great as a backup because he seems quite unselfish and can play FB fairly well. He is a good blocker as a TE and FB. He has very good hands. He also seems like an ideal teammate and lockeroom guy. But he is a huge question mark as far as being 100% healthy (for an entire season) and there are questions as to can he regain his form from 2009. He is only 29 and has had a lot of rest the last 2 years which is a good thing. Alternatively, we have Michael Higgins who is quite unproven but played well when he got a little bit of playing time last year. I like that he's 6 foot 5. Whether he can be a true NFL blocking TE is probably more of a question than can he be a receiver. Without Payton around this year to mentor him and make him a project, it is hard to count on him, but training camp should tell a lot. Jake Byrne is another option but even though I would like to be bullish on him, he only caught 1 pass as a senior at Wisconsin and 6 passes his entire college career. He is a diabetic, but that seems like it wouldn't be an issue and he apparently has that under control. Still, I would be shocked if he makes the 53 man roster. So, it would seem to be between The Baconator and Higgins unless someone else is picked up off waivers and that is a possibility. Jeremy Shockey perhaps? My guess is that DT will make the roster and Higgins will be on the practice squad unless someone else surfaces. I just really like having the option of running double tight ends anywhere on the field, especially red-zone and third down situations, and still being able to throw the ball to either tight end and have defenses respect that aspect of our offense. It is intriguing to me because I feel certain we will have 2 tight ends and it is so hard to predict. Let's face it- in regards to the personnel of most of our offense there isn't much uncertainty. Most if not all of the guys from last year are not going anywhere else. But this second TE position is the one key issue that could really be a big factor that influences whether our offense is just excellent or the best in the NFL.

This FanPost was written by a reader and member of Canal Street Chronicles. It does not necessarily reflect the views of CSC and its staff or editors.

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